Puerto Rican teachers went on strike Aug. 15 to save the island’s public school system from U.S.-imposed austerity attacks. A rally in support of the strike was held the same day in New York City’s Union Square.
Members of A Call to Action for Puerto Rico shared and translated for rally goers the following concerns raised by the Federación de Maestros de Puerto Rico/Teachers’ Federation of Puerto Rico (FMPR):
A new school year has begun in Puerto Rico, but 1,200 teachers have not been assigned to schools. Other teachers are being assigned extremely far from their homes. For example, a teacher from the island of Vieques, off the eastern coast of the main island, was assigned to teach in Cabo Rojo, which is on the west coast of the main island. There are schools that have teachers assigned, but no students assigned. Yet 2,700 teachers have been told they have a job, but no teaching assignment. Teachers’ tenure is not being respected.
Transportation routes have not been assigned to buses, so students have no way to get to school now that their community schools have been closed. There are schools with no water, bathrooms or food. Yet schools in perfectly good condition are being closed, and students are being sent to trailers that cost more than $1,682,000. In some schools, two classes of students are being placed in one classroom, a violation of fire codes. Special education students are not being assigned to schools that have the appropriate facilities for their needs.
Messages of solidarity are going out to the FMPR from teachers and other workers across the U.S. — Arizona, California, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Tennessee, as well as international solidarity. (tinyurl.com/y9aaqvrq)